Back when I first sat down to start writing this post, things like this
(pea shoots boinging up out of the dirt in the greenhouse) were causing me to boing around and do things like this
(those are not brownies, they are soil blocks in which artichoke SEEDS were planted!!) Soil blocks rock. No need for annoying little plastic seedling containers that bust and then promptly fill up the landfill. I highly recommend getting a soil blocker. I only have the 2-inch guy and that works just fine––it is less labor-intensive than starting out with a mini blocker and having to transplant your seedlings into the 2-inch size a couple days later. Check it out
I had started to think about things like this
(aaahhh zucchini blossom/itchy skin from haying/popsicle weather!)
And obviously things like this
(I don't think an explanation is needed here)
I was dealing with things like this
(More grass than snow in February when we should be skiing up a storm, and an entourage of robust robins for your ornithological enjoyment)
Hi little mini beer-gutted guys! (did they even have time to arrive at their winter destination between November and now!? And how did they get so round already, must've been good scavenging down in the dirty south)
Everything was boing boing boinging! It appeared that spring was en route!
It was looking like the whole of my precision-cut pieces of firewood toothpick collection
would end up constituting a big enough woodpile to keep us warm for two years, since the notorious six-month VT winter was clearly a thing of the past. And beyond the sheer terror of climate change and threat of ski-less winters, I was even looking on the bright side––I had discovered a new favorite sport and my skis wouldn't need wax for another couple of years...
Boing boing boing!
I made this, twice, and I'm going to do it again as soon as I get up from this chair
BOING! Springy-looking minty and pea shoot-y (and fancy if you want it to be) deliciousness.
I ordered more seeds and planted more sprouts. I am wild about pea shoots. Sprouts are delicious in general (erase those brownish tinted fuzzy units from your mind and try planting some pea shoots or sunflower sprouts; you will then understand my joy. You can grow them in a flower pot or a wooden box or a tray, just put an inch or two of organic compost or potting soil down, sprinkle the seeds on top ((really you can use any old pea seed you might have or you can buy those that say "pea shoots seeds" on the packet)) cover with a little soil, water and in no time you will have these gorgeous salad greens!!)
I love them because of their boingy flavor and mostly because they grow vibrantly in winter when everything else struggles and gasps for light, which is all but nonexistent in the height of Vermont winter.
I'm not saying that pea shoots are exciting for every Tom, Dick & Harry, or that the hint of spring in the air was alighting a boing in everyone around here
There are generally less bones available in the spring than in the fall...
Because fall (customarily) means harvesting.
And spring, on the other hand, means babies.
I mean baby animals people. And yes that was an automatic disclaimer, as there has never been such a reiterated, tired old question as "when are you guys gonna have babies!?" (haha I am exaggerating a little, I am not really that bothered by the question). It's not that I don't like babies
Look at this one for example! Gardner! He is an angel. I have never met anyone so lovely. (I can't tell how he feels about me in this photo... maybe a slight hint of skepticism but he was probably just cold... and oh, doesn't it look like I was squeezing him a little tight!?... he is irresistably snugalicious)
And yes, we would actually like to have some of our own at some point, but, as I wrote in response to a lovely friend who happens to be in the midst of baby fever, "my life is overflowing with fulfillingness and I hate poop." That sounded like a perfectly decent response to me because
this is what happens when I have to clean up poop. I cry. (Am I allowed to say "poop" on the air?)
For us, children are not THE paramount goal in life. They are cool as hell and very important and we'll just have to see what happens but we have a lot of goals... And in response to the "oh you will change your mind about poop, it isn't so awful when its your baby"... that sounds like the biggest load of... let's just say I'll believe that when I see it... Ew... though my dear friend Nicki did, at that very low point of gagging-with-bandana-over-my-face-dom due to doggy disaster, assure me that dog doo is a million times worse than baby poo. Nicki is amazing for many reasons. She was my first roommate ever, at college, and I love her. And I will never forget those fine words, they will help me through some rough times I am sure... when we do decide to have munchkins, I am not under any sort of false assumption that it will be a piece of cake... I really don't know where I could've come up with that idea...
(Our gene pool, documented above = exhibitionist rascals who hid our clothing) That is me on the left, probably scaling a giant hay stack to leap off the top; woodsman on the right most likely photographed .2 seconds before he stripped off his knickers and threw them in the sea).
What I do know, is that this fine springy soup that I've been meaning to tell you about, was extremely popular with my homegirl Harper (Gardner's big sister) at the age of 8 months old...
I am willing to bet that it has the power to proffer a joy equivalent to the above, to you... (I guess I hope you have more than two teeth if you are reading this but even if you don't, do not worry, you can still eat this soup!)
There really are a ton of selling points to this glorious green bisque.
Harp earned her saucy, having displayed such a sophisticated palate from such a young age
And even though it snowed a foot (I hope the birds don't give up on Mo' Nature and retire in a nice midway point with plenty of leisure activities and less threatening sporadic climate, like Maryland or something)
I don't see any cozy place for a bird's nest out there...
Wherever you are, in whatever season, whether with fresh peas available or not, I recommend you
go and get your saucy on
We did. And you can too! (that is my dear Katie, Harper & Gardner's mama on the left!)
Go whip up this lovely green dish! The color is fab. And of course, the recipe is so adaptable; you can use frozen peas from your garden or from a bag or organic frozen and mint of any kind... I actually had to use dried mint from this past summer (I dont know what kind it is... the kind that proliferates into a 6ft hedge and I often have to weed-whack it down but it makes delicious smelling mulch) Anyway, my point is, as usual, you have to TASTE your food while you are cooking it if you want it to taste right.
The trick here is not to overcook the peas, let them be that brilliant springy green. Oh, and did I mention this can be made in 30-45 mins! woohoo!
Springy & Minty & Exuberant Sweet Pea Soup (I think it is an ideal first course to precede the Sexiest Chicken Ever... or anything else. It is unique, simple and glorious. I am going to go make some right now.
2 tablespoons butter
1 sweet or yellow or red onion (or 2-3 leeks)
1 lb-ish sweet peas...now if it is mid-winter and you never save enough spring peas to freeze your own b/c they are way too delicious fresh, use frozen organic peas. If you have fresh peas then use them!
4-5 cups chicken stock (yes you can use veggie if you're a veggie :)
1/2-3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint (the quantity really depends what type of mint you are using, some are stronger than others and, as I said, I successfully used dried mint in a pinch as well!)
Fresh thyme if you have it (approx 1 tsp.)
1/2 cup cream (or whole milk or half&half)
1/2 cup whole plain yogurt (preferably Greek or homemade or homemade Greek!)
Plenty of coarsely-ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
Fresh pea shoots to garnish! (and Bacon, of course, is an optional garnish as well)
1. Place 2 tbsp butter in a medium-size saucepan and add 1 roughly chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté over medium for a few minutes until onion is relatively soft.
2. Add 1 lb peas and enough of the stock to cover the peas by about a half an inch. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes. The peas will brighten in color and soften.
3. Turn off the heat and add the fresh thyme leaves, mint leaves (start w/ a 1/2 cup) and enough stock to purée successfully... ie: I like to start the immersion blender and as the soup thickens as it is blending, I add in a little bit of stock at a time to reach my desired consistency. Or if you are using a blender, the same rule of thumb applies––add the mixture to the blender and add additional stock as it gets thicker.
4. Taste. Add more mint if you want it mintier. If you are after a particularly suave, smooth and velveteen green soup experience, strain the mixture through a fine sieve at this point, pressing on the solids to get all of the green magic out. Save the "bits" for pea & mint ravioli filling at a later date!
5. Whether you chose the velvet or the slightly thicker consistency option, whisk in the 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup yogurt at this point. If it is too thick for your liking, add more stock and whisk. Taste. Add more mint, salt and/or pepper if you desire.... and crispy little bits of BACON. If you like bacon, this is a perfect opportunity. If you don't like bacon, I don't know you.
Just kidding, just kidding, just kidding!! There are (a few) vegetarians that I love. A lot.
6. If you are saving the soup for later (ha, it is too delicious, you'll have to have some now :) just put it in the fridge and when it is time to warm it up, do so over very low heat, stirring constantly. Watch it like a hawk and do not let it overheat or curdle.
7. Serve garnished with fresh pea shoots, a bit of yogurt or cream or sour cream or creme fraiche and cracked pepper.
I am aware that you might not believe that my enthusiasm for this simple little recipe is justifiable... but trust me. Try it. Tell me how you like it.
What are you looking forward to in the realm of springtime?
Do you think I can convince you that you CAN grow a garden (no matter how tiny or enormous) and enjoy it to the max? I hope so.